Caunes-Minervois Abbey

Caunes-Minervois, France

The foundation of the Benedictine abbey Caunes-Minervois was the work of Aniane, Saint Benoît d'Aniane's friend, at the end of the 8th century. Originally under the direct protection of the King of France, the monastery later passed into the hands of the Count of Barcelona, before ending up as a possession of the Trencavel family who decided to renounce their rights in 1195.

During the Crusade against the Albigensians, several times, the Abbot of Caunes welcomed the Pope's representatives who came to preach the Catholic orthodoxy. In 1227, Pierre Isarn, the Cathar bishop of the Carcasses area was burned at the stake at Caunes.

The 13th and 14th centuries were marked by power struggles between secular and religious authorities, and by prosperity for the monastery whose members increased from about fifteen to about thirty.

The establishment, in 1467, of a commendam whereby a manager took over the running of the abbey, signalled the beginning of the decline of monastic values at Caunes. It was only at the beginning of the 17th century that a series of reforms was instigated by the Abbot Jean d'Alibert. In particular, he restored the buildings and re-built the abbey's residence. Then, the congregation of Saint-Maur took possession of the abbey in 1663 and rebuilt the moastic buildings. The abbey became state property in 1791, with the exception of the church which became property of the municipality.

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